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The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), representing the air medical transport industry, submitted a letter this week to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar with an urgent request to rapidly distribute money to emergency air medical providers from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.
In order to ensure the sustainability of the air ambulance community’s labor force through the challenges of the next six months, air ambulance labor costs will increase by an estimated 50 percent. AAMS anticipates a total six-month need of $$254,424 per aircraft, for a total allocation of $363.5 million.
“Like other segments of the health care industry, air medical providers are incurring significant labor and other cost increases stemming from our members’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cameron Curtis, AAMS president and CEO. “This public health emergency has exacerbated the already precarious viability of emergency air providers across the country and threatens the closure of additional air medical bases at a time when this service is acutely needed.”
In the April 6 letter to Azar, Curtis and AAMS Board Chair Deborah Boudreaux report a nearly 50 percent decline in patient transport volume with fewer people requiring services owing to ‘stay-at-home’ and ‘social distancing’ orders. However, air services must remain a state of readiness for patients with emergency medical and trauma needs as well as COVID-19 patients needing transport to medical centers.
AAMS continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with the EMS COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Working Group, hosted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of EMS and includes the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Homeland Secutiry and DHHS Office of Preparedness, as well as multiple National EMS affiliated associations. AAMS provides updates and resources for its members and the public at www.AAMS.org.